Twenty-two percent of the municipal solid waste dropped into landfills or incincerators in the U.S. is, in fact, food that could be put to better use through composting and soil enrichment. Moreover, food-scrap recycling programs, while still relatively uncommon, are having a growth moment in the U.S.; they’ve roughly doubled in size since 2010. Now, a national study by MIT researchers provides one of the first in-depth looks at the characteristics of places that have adopted food recycling, revealing several new facts in the process. Food-scrap recycling has multiple benefits. Food scraps can be used for composting, which enriches soil and reduces emissions of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) from landfills. It also significantly reduces the volume of landfill needed in a given area. And recycling food can save cities and towns money by lowering the needed frequency of trash collection.About one-third of all trash in the U.S. is recycled, a level that has held steady in the U.S. in recent years. But since 2010, the food-scrap recycling rate has increased from 2.7 percent to 5.1 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Still, there is clearly room for greater adoption of the practice.
From MIT Photo John Vlahakis